KRIS Commons has been given the perfect Champions League boost after being named in a poll of Europe’s top footballers.
The Celtic midfielder was one of 35 players recognised in Uefa’s Best Player in Europe award for 2013-14 for his prolific campaign for the Scottish champions last season.
Commons struck 32 times for the Parkhead side and will be hoping to get off the mark for the new term tomorrow in the second leg of the Champions League qualifying tie with KR Reykjavik at Murrayfield.
The 30-year-old scored in Celtic’s 1-1 friendly draw with Dynamo Dresden in Germany on Saturday but began last season’s remarkable haul by netting the winner against Elfsborg on Champions League qualifying duty and then producing a stunning 25-yarder when Shakhter Karagandy came to Glasgow to help secure a coveted group stage passport.
The Celtic midfielder did not make the top-ten shortlist but Uefa revealed yesterday that the former Scottish international is among some pretty illustrious company for those who also missed the cut.
Commons was in 24th place alongside Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Barcelona’s Javier Mastering – and last year’s winner, Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich.
Real’s £80m man Gareth Bale was in 18th place, while Manchester United’s Robin van Persie polled fewer votes than the Celtic player.
Commons was recognised for his outstanding contribution of netting 32 times while still operating as a midfielder, rather than a striker. The last Celt to score as many goals as this in a season was the iconic Henrik Larsson.
Commons’ achievement was reflected by the fact that in May he was named as Scottish player of the year by his peers with the PFAScotland award and the football writers’ version, too.
The top ten short-list is dominated by Bayern Munich, who have four players nominated, including Germany’s World Cup winning captain Philipp Lahm, while the wealthy English Premier League can count on only name, Chelsea’s new signing Diego Costa (from Atletico Madrid), while Liverpool’s 31-goal Luis Suarez has moved to Barcelona.
The ten stars are: Diego Costa (Spain, Atlético Madrid – now at Chelsea), Ángel Di María (Argentina, Real Madrid), James Rodríguez (Colombia, AS Monaco), Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Thomas Müller (Germany, Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich), Arjen Robben (Netherlands, Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid) Luis Suárez (Uruguay, Liverpool – now at Barcelona).
Those ten now go into a second round of voting to produce the three finalist nominees, who will be named on Thursday 14 August. The award will then be presented in Monaco on 28 August during the 2014-15 Champions League group stage draw, at which Celtic hope to be involved.